Thursday, April 16, 2020

A vision for eradicating coronavirus - Article by Tarun Agarwal


Terror furthers no religion, virus does not empower any nation
TARUN AGARWAL
When Wuhan resumed normal life, we came to know that we have hope in hand. There is a certainty now because of their experience that this will come to an end. Even if we want to be cautious, we can assume with reasonable certainty that there will be a complete pause sometime soon even if no relapse cannot be assured. Countries across the world learn from each other very quickly nowadays as information reaches from one corner of the world to another at the blink of an eye. There is little doubt that China will help other countries from their learnings as individually and collectively, coronavirus is a big blot on China’s overall position in the world and they would want to make an all-out effort to reverse the damage to their acceptance. Thus, there is optimism on that front.
However, to ensure that the complete pause is reached, we need to bear a few things in mind. The pandemic has been contained in China in the good, old-fashioned ways. The entire city has been disinfected thoroughly just the way we clean a house to stop the spread of several diseases. Like for all contagious diseases like chickenpox or conjunctivitis, the contagion has been absorbed by imposing limits on human interactions.  Just as we try home remedies when a person falls sick unexpectedly, so too all available treatments were tried and, the Wuhan experience shows, some available things do work in the end.  After a disease or an illness hits a person, he adopts a new lifestyle to deal with the ravages and to prevent a relapse. In much the same way, Wuhan has put several checks and balances and a new set of behavioural patterns will get normalized which won’t be too different from the existing ones but a little modified. The restrictions on the movement of people that was applied achieved the goal of building a healthcare ecosystem that can deal with it. We can see that this ecosystem requires a large army of well-trained people of various capabilities. Equipment and medicines need to reach critical mass. One of the underlying principles of making this a success is making prevention, testing and treatment available to every single individual irrespective of religion, strata or domicile status.
The western nations, who have deep roots in research and development, are likely to come up with the treatment and, if it exists, the cure. The vaccine also will be delivered following the due process of innovation. The western countries as well as some new economic superpowers like China are the countries most likely to come up with conclusive research and development processes.
After this achieved, a new problem will throw itself to the world. This was not an expected crisis. Bill Gates had put his credibility in line predicting this would happen a few years ago. ‘Contagion’, a mainstream Hollywood film was made on this – which means several luminary writers, directors and producers saw this as a plausible scenario. An astrologer in India is going viral for having predicted this too! This means that we should look at the other facets of these predictions and especially by those who have that kind of access to knowledge and wisdom.
The predictions of top experts point to bioterrorism as the new threat. In a way, it is a continuation of the terrorism that dominated one decade of the world starting from 9/11. This terrorism got taught us the importance of protecting our cities besides forcing the political class to not encourage building of such terror camps howsoever strategic it may be. Our malls, five-star hotels, big housing complexes did not have a security guard to check anyone who comes in then. Intelligence agencies also realized that trouble at the border, while not completely a thing of the past, was much less significant than the war that was being waged through terrorism. The intelligence agencies too play their part in nipping in the bud anyone trying to setup a terror camp.
In much the same as terror arising from Islamic fundamentalism has been eradicated very significantly, this threat of bioterrorism needs to be overcome. This means that our malls, hotels, residences, airports, cinema halls, offices will also check you for fever and anyone having cough and cold will be advised not to come but to be at rest. Happily, this checking has already started in some places. It needs to be scaled as soon as possible. The public and media must put pressure on political leaders to not build clinics where such viruses are being made. The public must put pressure on political leadership to not roll out such attacks deliberately. Just as we have terror task forces, we need task forces that will do uncomfortable investigations on these epidemics lest anyone in the seat of power thinks that he will get away with it.
Even if coronavirus was not a bioterror attack this time, in the future, there is a likelihood that this will become a preferred route of some states to wage wars. It will, perhaps, open the pandora’s box. Political leadership often has a thirst to lord it over other countries as well as their own citizens. Political classes have everything to gain when freedoms of the people are curtailed. They very well understand that the economic loss also means ease of handling any threats to their seats of power. To completely eradicate coronavirus and other such similar pandemics, we need to unequivocally expose the fact that just as terrorism is not a well-wisher of any religion, viruses have no affinity for any nationality, and everyone suffers when these get created. The can of worms that has opened, will require a new consciousness to deal with. Countries like India have a chance to reshape their role in this science driven world. People of the country need to become conscious of the impact that research teams in corporates, universities and government agencies have on the fortune of the country. Scientist Shi Zhengli, who is referred to as ‘bat woman’ for her many conquests in the field of bat related diseases including having decisive role in SARS and the current pandemic, has entered in minds of the common man in China. Similar celebrations must be made for researchers in India.  India needs to come to the forefront in the world affairs in this matter as it is the only country where power and morality has co-existed since ages. The power of great research needs to rest in the hands of the morally disciplined else the discovery made in the areas of bioterrorism will be very expensive for mankind. Discovery in the field of science and biology are very potent and we need to build a public consensus that its misuse will not be tolerated.
A fresh vision is necessary to prohibit anyone in the world from treating this coronavirus terror being wreaked on the world as an opportunity to be replicated.

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7 comments:

  1. Tarun, a concise and informative piece of work.

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  2. This is Col Pankaj Goel from Nodd

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  4. Thank you all for the comments and readership. Thank you Col Pankaj Goel. I revisted the piece to see if it has become irrelevant but I realized, it hasn't. Thanks to Mr Mayank Gandhi for giving a platform to these thoughts.

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